EBONY Sheikh, which has been on a self-imposed sabbatical, has announced its return with a new album, Ntabez’kude, their fifth in a career spanning several decades.
BY SHARON SIBINDI
The six-track album, which has the songs Sakubona Lavi, Yingwe Bani, Londolozela, Shwele Baba and Africa Arise, is their first release since 1991.
The group made a lasting impression with their song Celebrate in the 1980s and provided a platform for the establishment of some of the country’s legendary musicians such as Don Gumbo, John Maseko, Jealous Sibanda, Herbert Murerwa, Cuthbert Mkhosana, Ernest Sikhosana, Doctor and George Phahlane, Standrad Zaranyika and Siphathisiwe Ncube, Busi Ncube’s twin sister.
The group went into hibernation around 1996 after a string of deaths of some of its members.
Group founder, George told NewsDay that they had blended their music with new trends to remain competitive.
“We still maintain our roots as Ebony Sheikh, but we blended a bit so that our music can be marketable and match the competition outside,” he said.
George said Ntabez’kude is a dedication to his wife, Siphathisiwe, and he wrote it while he was in South Africa seeking greener pastures.
“In 2008, things became so tough and it was difficult for me take care of the family through music. This was due to the crumbling economy and it was the first time in my life that I decided to take a break from music. In 2012, I thought I should go to South Africa and get a job so that I could get something for my family,” he said.
Missing his wife during his sojourn, he said, inspired him to pen the song.
George said changes in music were good because genres morphed with each generation.
“We accept change because we cannot keep listening to same music all the time. Music is meant to entertain people and you cannot entertain people with one song or genre, they get bored,” he said.
The group is known for its township jazz music and the only members left are Siphathisiwe, Doctor and George.